2000s Hip-Hop Fashion: JAY-Z’s Highly Influential Button-Up Era

Jay-Z‘s influence reigned supreme within Hip-Hop for many years, including much of the early 2000s. His personal opinions on everything from Autotune to throwback jerseys permeated the culture so deeply, that his word seemingly became gospel among both Hip-Hop fans and his peers within the game.

His evolving sense of style between 2002 and 2003 is a prime example, as the Brooklyn MC’s dismissal of jerseys on 2003’s “What More Can I Say” (I don’t wear jerseys I’m 30 plus/ give me a crisp pair of jeans, ni**a, button-ups) signaled a new era in Hip-Hop style, with artists ranging from Nelly and T.I. to Fat Joe and Ja Rule adopting the look throughout 2004 and 2005.

After being shown photos of Omarion, Beanie Sigel and Fabolous rocking button-ups over white-tees and jeans, Hov addressed his influence in a classic interview with Sway Calloway.

“This is my growth,” Jay shared at the time. “You gotta figure, I was doing throwbacks — if ya’ll pull up the ‘I Can’t Get With That‘ video — that was one of my first videos, I had the Reggie Miller on then. I was doing the jersey thing…in ’92 or something like that. It’s just my growth, man, we can’t just stay in the same place with a bunch of numbers on our back. We gotta grow up, it’s time to grow up. You got to go in them offices and look presentable, get a couple checks.”

Not only did Hov’s peers take his advice, but so did the masses, as Peter Rosenberg reminded us during a 2022 conversation with Jay’s longtime stylist, June Ambrose. 

“He said it on record, and you can go back and ask Mitchell & Ness, they saw the sales fall off a cliff,” Rosenberg recalled, with Ambrose echoing Hov’s sentiments that it was time for an evolution.

Check out throwback snaps of Jay-Z embracing his growth in button-ups and crisp jeans below, as well as several of his Hip-Hop peers who eventually followed suit.

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